[MUD-Dev] Re: Spoofing (Psychopaths)

Richard Bartle 76703.3042 at compuserve.com
Wed Oct 7 07:09:42 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998


Ola Fosheim =?iso-8859-1?Q?Gr=F8stad?= <olag at ifi.uio.no> writes:
 >Your writing is fairly normative, and thus a solution to something is
 >implied.
        Well the direction of a solution is implied, and I do give some
remedial advice for administrators. However, the only thing I'm actively
trying to "sell" is the fact that there isn't a straight dichotomy between
"social" and "gamelike" MUDs - something very few people have subsequently
"bought" anyway, sigh.
 
 >I have "no serious" problem with the paper if it is being used in a
 >discussion on the classic mud seen as an organism, that is in a focused
 >consumer-producer discussion.
        In what sense? MUDs as consumers of players? Or players as consumers
of MUDs?
 
 >Within that very limited context it is a fair _attempt_.
        I take issue with the "very limited" qualifier; game design and
management is not a narrow field. I agree with the assertion that it's an
attempt, though - what else could it be?
 
 >It is however used outside that context quite often.
        That is a reason to attack the people who use it out of context; it's
not a reason to attack the paper itself.
 
 >A better alternative is to accept the diffuse situation in which humans
 >interact and building a larger set of perspectives on it.
        Well, yes, if there are foundations underpinning this set. All too
often I see people producing lists of player categories without any real
theoretical support. It's perfectly plausible that the complex web of
personal interactions among players gives rise to emergent behavioural types
which are hard to relate to one another - indeed it's probably more likely.
The interesting research is in finding that link, however, rather than
simply stating that there must be one and categorising from there.
 
 > It isn't too hard to weaken quite a few of the claims empirically
        Oh, I agree. For example, the paper states that players drift
between categories on an individual basis, but it doesn't show the typical
paths they take, nor suggest ways to divert them. The critical point that
explorers keep down the numbers of killers is only valid if the explorers
don't get so fed up that they themselves turn into super-efficient killing
machines as some act of revenge or cry for help. If that's allowed to
happen, your game is in big trouble! The paper mentions none of this,
however, so an empirical look at the numbers of explorers wouldn't
necessarily give you a clean picture.
 
 >People with a proper grounding in social sciences are probably more
 >concerned about central papers in their own field to write responses to a
 >paper in an exotic field like this :(.
        I agree, but we are seeing a few people from other fields looking at
MUDs as a niche for their research. The more established researchers aren't,
as they already have their niches, but the PhD candidates aren't as
constrained. I'm mildly optimistic.
 
 >The problem is that I meet people using the paper as an "rock solid"
 >(rigid) classification of players.
        Well it's one (I assert!) that works, but it's at such a high
generality that it's only really going to be useful for coarse solutions
at best. My own pet gripe is when killers have read it and thereupon justify
their actions as being essential for the well-being of the game...
 
 >how it is being used as an argument. That is as a "proof" further
 >cementing existing stereotypes (which existed prior to the article).
        While it may add support, it in no way proves anything, you're
right. As always, dealing with stereotypes or categories of individual is a
tricky business. Merely because my paper develops such categories, that
doesn't necessarily mean it's always appropriate to apply them.
 
 >The problem (as I see it) arise when designer starts to think "activity
 >type X == user instance X == motivation type X".
        The problem is when designers don't think about users at all!
 
 >Needs analysis (and user centered design) isn't new to professionals
 >(I hope???).  Hobbyists seem to follow their own path anyway...
        Sadly, many computer games designers are basically hobbyists at
heart. Needs analysis is often only used when some neat feature that the
designers really want to put in has to be finessed past the producer or
the publisher. Furthermore, what needs analysis there is tends to be of
an arbitrary nature, without any consideration of how the various types of
player they are aiming for will interact once put together.
        Hmm, I may be being a little over-pessimistic there...
 
 >So why not write two more focused papers? It was a (small) surprise that
 >you didn't include Farmer's ?1988? classification
        I only had 2 papers by Farmer at the time, and neither of them
mentioned player categorisation. I have since acquired the "Habitat
Citizenry" paper, to which I assume you refer, and yes, I would have
mentioned it if I'd know about it before (if only because it has something to
say about how players follow paths through categories as they develop).
        
 >and that the psychologists reviewing the paper didn't point you to
 >research on interpersonal needs in groups.
        They did mention it, but decided that the nature of the paper was
such that it was unnecessary for me to go away and read it up; the
assumption was that people who read my paper would say "hey, that's like
interpersonal needs in groups!" then go away and write their OWN papers. My
paper was a starting point by a non-expert, which experts could take up and
run with if they cared to do so.
 
 >Appending heaps of references is a classic strategy for making a paper look
 >convincing.
        Making that remark is a classic strategy for undermining a paper.
 
 >The fact that it was written by the legend Bartle also seems to make it
 >more true to some people...
        It also seems to make it more false to some people.
        It's not my fault if people regard me as a "legend", it's not like I
go out of my way to get them to do so. Every article I write on MUDs which
mentions their origins studiously credits Roy Trubshaw as the guy who
started it all, but to no avail. True, I have lots of experience with these
games, and would hope that this would carry some weight, but I doubt if you
grabbed hold of an average MUD player they'd even have a clue who I was.
        Still, there are people out there who seem to think I'm some kind of
self-serving publicist, and therefore whatever I write must be garbage.
These people are entitled to their opinion, but they're just as wrong as the
people who think that my words come from heaven on tablets of stone...
 
 >I take you mean "types of players", I don't remember seeing anything
 >substantial on groups
        Well you're using "groups" in a more technical sense, but yes: I mean
"players grouped together by types".
 
 >Note: I am not limiting myself to this mailinglist when I refer to how
 >Bartle's paper pop up as an argument in discussions. (No need to be
 >provoked on a general basis).
        Don't I know it! Consider yourself lucky: I have to answer emails
from confused or self-righteous individuals who wish to know my credentials
for pronouncing with any authority on the subject of anthropology, social
pychology, psychotherapy, criminology, feminism, object-oriented design, ...
 
                Richard




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